Updated: YORK’S new millionaire lottery winners have spoken of their delight – and revealed they kept their winning ticket in a “sacred” antique teapot over Christmas until they could claim their prize.
Judy and Frank Whitmore, of Tockwith, won £1 million in the Christmas EuroMillions raffle last Friday, winning one of 25 top prizes.
The couple, who have been married for 43 years and have three children, yesterday told of their joy in a photocall at the Bridge Inn Hotel at Wetherby.
Mrs Whitmore, 62, said: “We are just country folk. We have lovely neighbours and have been inundated with calls and visits congratulating us on our win. It’s just absolutely amazing.”
Mr Whitmore, 68, said the win just meant “freedom inside your head.”
He said he stopped buying lottery tickets two years ago, thinking he could put the money to better use, but said his wife “had kept the faith.” Mrs Whitmore said she had bought a ticket last Thursday because she had seen publicity about how many winners there would be.
She forgot all about it until lunch-time on Christmas Eve.
She said: “I got the laptop out and saw I hadn’t won the lottery so checked through the raffle numbers.”
After seeing the winning number – and checking it six times – she and her husband rang their son to check. He said: “Yes, Mum, you have won it.” Her winning number was FYC 521328.
Mrs Whitmore said they “screamed for a bit” but rather than go out shopping, they went for a walk “with great big smiles on our faces and occasionally laughing”.
They kept the winning ticket over Christmas in an antique teapot, which had belonged to Mr Whitmore’s great great grandmother, and put it on top of a kitchen unit.
Mrs Whitmore, who is teetotal, posed for photographs with her husband, the teapot and a glass of Champagne for Mr Whitmore – though he usually prefers Tetleys bitter.
She said: “The teapot is a family heirloom. It’s sacred to us, our little teapot.”
The couple have three children, Andrew, 42 – who verified they had a winning ticket – Louise, 40, and Paul, 32, and four grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.
They said they had no plans to leave Tockwith, but would be taking an immediate holiday to clear their heads.
Both the keen walkers love the east coast and said they may venture to the north of Scotland, working their way slowly back to their home.
Mr Whitmore spent 40 years refurbishing kitchens, while his wife worked part-time in a cafeteria. Both are now retired.
“We were comfortable because my husband was sensible and had a good pension,” said Mrs Whitmore.
“We were not rich. We are normal, everyday people who like taking the dog for a walk and the countryside.”
Mr Whitmore said they intend to help members of the family as well as splashing out a bit on themselves. He plans to trade in his Vauxhall Meriva for a Toyota Rav4 and they may buy a seaside caravan.
The winning ticket was bought in Tockwith Post Office.
Staff member Christine Jenkins, who used to work with Mrs Whitmore at a nursing home in nearby Long Marston, spoke of her joy for the pair. “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer couple,” she said.
“They are both so nice and caring. Everyone is happy for them.”
Fellow villager Sue Dunn, who has known Mr Whitmore all his life, said: “I am delighted for them. It is so nice to hear something so positive in the news. I am really pleased for them both.”
Toni Akeroyd, a worker at the Spotted Ox pub, said she grew up with Paul, one of the couple’s sons. She said: “I have known the family for all my life and they are lovely.
“They are just nice people – it is great news.”
Camelot said there were still five unclaimed £1 million EuroMillions Millionaire Raffle winners from the December 23 draw.
AS Christmas presents go, winning the lottery has to be as good as it gets. And for Judy and Frank Whitmore it will be a very Happy New Year, as a cheque for £1 million wings its way into their bank account.
We are delighted for them. Judy says they are just normal, everyday folk who, when they heard the news, went for a walk rather than splashing out their new-found riches in the Boxing Day sales.
It’s great to hear that such a well-loved couple have been rewarded with a slice of good fortune.